Cannabis as a Superfood: The HCN’s Donna Shields Sheds Some Light.

Sativa The Superfood, reproduced with permission from Sensi Magazine.
Written by Randy Robinson
Sensi Magazine January 2017

More than half of all US states—28 in total—recognize cannabis as medicine. But cannabis may be much more than a medicine. It could be considered a superfood, too.

In recent years, Americans have veered away from drivethroughs and gas station food. Today, many are steering toward healthier diets. As people prod the Internet, magazines, and shows for new sources of nutritious-yet-tasty meals, the term “superfood” is popping up quite a bit.

Which brings up the questions: What, exactly, is a superfood? And does cannabis fall under this category?

A superfood could be considered any food item that’s incredibly dense with vitamins, proteins, amino acids, antioxidants, polyphenols, or any number of other molecules that provide health benefits. Examples of some superfoods include salmon, oatmeal, green tea, blueberries, and quinoa. Let’s see how cannabis holds up to these superfood standards.

Beyond Edibles—Raw Cannabis

As marijuana legalization sweeps the nation, infused edibles have become a hot topic. Raw cannabis and its juice, although growing in popularity, haven’t been heavily marketed by the nation’s exploding cannabis industry.

Cannabis juicing is exactly what it seems: dropping cannabis flowers and leaves into a juicer and separating its nutrition-dense juice from the solid plant matter. Raw cannabis juice alone has no “recreational” potential; it doesn’t get anyone elevated.

However, cannabis can be incredibly useful without any psychoactive effect.

The buds can be eaten raw as part of a salad or as some other side dish, but juicing is the quickest and easiest way to prepare cannabis as a part of a healthy and balanced diet.

Cooking buds or heating them in any way can “activate” the plant’s cannabinoids, potentially causing the elevating effects for which cannabis is known.

Nutritional Facts

To view cannabis as a superfood, it helps to think about it as just another vegetable.

Parts of the Cannabis sativa plant are already available as a prepackaged superfood in nearly every grocery store.
Hemp seeds, which are non-psychoactive, won’t give anyone a buzz, and they’re packed with omega-3 fatty acids,
the same nutritional stuff found in avocados and fish oil. The seeds contain proteins, vitamins, and amino acids, too, which every person needs.

The cannabis plant proper—its leaves and buds—offers more nutrition than the seeds. Raw juice and plant material are packed with cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other nerdy-sounding stuff that confers a ton of health benefits.

Those benefits include anti-inflammation, anti-cancer, anti-tumor, antioxidant, and possibly even anti-aging properties.

Donna Shields, co-founder, HCN and HCADonna Shields, MS, RDN, founder of cannabis education firm Holistic Cannabis Network and Holistic Cannabis Academy, says making cannabis— especially raw cannabis—part of a healthy diet might help stave off illnesses. “Chronic disease is caused by inflammation,” she explains. “The reason we eat superfoods is to tame the fire of inflammation in the body. Cannabis is an antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties.”

But wait, there’s more: Raw cannabis offers fiber, folic acid, potassium, riboflavin, zinc, niacin, phosphorus, thia-mine, beta-carotene, and beta-caryophyllene, and vitamins A, B12, D, and E. Woo! It’s practically like getting a full garden salad in one plant.

“ It’s just another ingredient,” adds Shields. “It’s like if I put kale in my drink. If we put cannabis in the context that this is just another nutritious ingredient placed in the juicer or the blender, then it becomes easier for people to wrap their head around it.”

As for how much cannabis you should include in your diet, that’s entirely up to you. If you’re drinking cannabis juice for medicinal purposes, you’ll need to gauge your intake based on your individual needs. If you’re drinking cannabis juice for general health purposes, adding as little or as much as you want according to your tastes should suffice.

About Those Cannabinoids

The two prominent cannabinoids in cannabis are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the
stuff that gets us lifted; CBD can make us feel chill, but it won’t get us spacey. In raw cannabis, these two compounds are in their natural, acidic forms, which we designate THC-a and CBD-a.

When we heat the plant (such as by smoking), we knock off the acidic part of the molecule, which allows it to activate receptors on our cells. THC-a won’t get us high, but we don’t need to get elevated to benefit from the plant. “One of the upsides of using it in its raw state is that you’re not getting the high,” explains Shields. “Most people are able to consume a greater quantity of the plant matter, getting a greater quantity of cannabinoids than if they used it in some other form.”

Learn more about the Holistic Cannabis Network and the Holistic Cannabis Academy. Join the revolution.

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